The Last Broadcast (1998) – Film Review
Directors: Stefan Avalos & Lace Weiler
Cast: David Beard, Lance Weiler, Stefan Avalos
By Sarah Morgan
Found footage horror movies are, to coin a phrase, as common as muck these days.
Unfortunately, for every Blair Witch Project or Paranormal Activity, there are hundreds that fall by the wayside, perhaps due to a lack of originality.
The Last Broadcast is thought to be the first feature-length film to be shot and edited on technology available to the general public. Its makers claim the budget was under $1,000, which is pretty incredible. However, it has some serious shortcomings – despite being under 90 minutes, it still feels too long; there’s too much padding for what should be, at best, an hour-long TV special.
The acting is mostly pretty terrible too. Clearly the budget didn’t stretch to hiring professional actors. Directors Stefan Avalos and Lace Weiler double-up as two of the central characters, although it’s David Beard, who plays the documentary-maker at the heart of the tale, that really lets the side down. He’s incredibly wooden and delivers his lines as if he’s been told what a TV presenter sounds like, rather than ever having seen one in action.
Beard’s character Leigh is making a programme about the murders of three members of a TV crew who were supposedly investigating the legend of the Jersey Devil by camping out in the Pine Barrens, a remote rural area of New Jersey.
Another member of the team, Jim, was convicted of killing them, despite protesting his innocence. Jim is also now dead, having been found slain in mysterious circumstances in his jail cell.
We follow Leigh as he pieces together evidence against the conviction. Various people linked to the case pop up to offer their views, including a video expert working on gaining an incriminating image from a section of tape in poor condition – but as the picture becomes increasingly clear, the real murderer decides they can’t let their secret come to light…
There’s lots of common ground here with the aforementioned The Blair Witch Project, although the film isn’t as accomplished. The reconstruction of the image is reminiscent of the key reveal in the Kevin Costner hit No Way Out, although as technology has moved on since then, it seems woefully out of date.
Although The Last Broadcast was an early found footage movie, it’s not memorable enough to be regarded as a key player. At best it’s a curiosity piece, at worst it’s just another entry in an already over-saturated genre.
• A New Broadcast: Interviews with co-directors Stefan Avalos and Lance Weiler (NEW)
• Limited Edition Booklet: Includes 'Welcome to the Digital Age: The Last Broadcast and the horrors of the Internet' by Phillip Escott and 'Fact or Fiction?' by Sarah Appleton (NEW)
• Commentary with co-directors Stefan Avalos and Lance Weiler (1999)
• Commentary with co-directors Stefan Avalos and Lance Weiler (2006)
• Behind-the-scenes documentary: Production
• Behind-the-scenes documentary: Post-production
• Behind-the-scenes documentary: Distribution
• Exclusive interviews
• Fact or Fiction: rare clips from the infamous public access show
• Jim Seward: Alive and Well performing two folk songs
• Lucas: What really happened?
• Gallery of Gore: Pine Barrens murder crime scene and autopsy images, Last Broadcast poster and box art
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The Last Broadcast is released on Blu-ray by 101 Films, £16.99